I am in the process of losing my only remaining grandparent.
To me, it’s a lot like losing some of the last remaining bits of my childhood. The memories of spending time at a grandparent’s home, with all the different and old-fashioned ways they lived start to fade into the recesses of our minds. My Granny was always one of the strongest, busiest, most fun, and cleanest people I ever knew. She was always my biggest cheerleader, and always motivated me with her example of accomplishment.
She grew up in a very different world than I did, and therefore learned completely different lessons and had very different reasons for the ways she lived than I did. The stories she told gave me a view into history that I have never read in any book.
I didn’t live through the Great Depression or the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma, but she and her parents did. I learned what real hardship was from her. I learned the value of food, possessions, conveniences, and necessities from her in a way I couldn’t have from anyone in our modern time. The values of conservation, frugality, care, and cleanliness were not fads or something to show off, they were absolute necessities for continued living. If they didn’t take great care with their few possessions, they did without, and often simply did without because there was no other choice. In our current times, we often view frugality or taking great care of possessions as old-fashioned or extreme. It’s so easy to just buy a new one when something wears out, but from my Granny, I learned why that’s a wasteful way of living.
The wise ways of our Grandparents have come in handy lately, with pandemic and natural disaster-related shortages and dangers. With so many uncertainties in our future, we would be wise to adopt more of our Grandparents’ values. We can listen more closely to their stories. We can ask more questions about the times they grew up in, and why they created some of the habits they have. Sadly my Granny can’t talk to us anymore. Her disease has progressed rapidly and so cruelly has left her unable to tell any more stories.
I’m so thankful that for her 90th birthday we asked Sacred Stories to film an interview with her before she began to decline. I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to listen to all her stories over the years. They made me so much wiser than I would have been without them; so much more equipped to deal with future hardships because of the stories I heard my Granny tell about her own times of hardship.
Carmen Crisantes is a mother and permaculturist in San Antonio, TX. She is part of the Sacred Stories Advisory Group.